April 23, 2014

Master Yoda

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.―Yoda, to Luke Skywalker[src]

This project came as a request/commission from a friend for her husband's birthday this year. He is a big Star Wars fan... heck, they had Darth Vader at their wedding. Yeah. 

We started off, like I do, cruising Etsy for a crochet pattern for a Star Wars character and quickly decided that Yoda was the most recognizable and the cutest in crochet. I decided to go with the pattern from Inner Child Crochet for My Friend Yoda. I chose that one because most were creating a pretty small Yoda (like 5 inches tall) and I wanted mine to be a bit larger like something you could actually play with. When he was all done, he is about 8.5 inches tall, and perfect for hugs.

The pattern was fast and simple and came with came with the full body, belt, hooded coat and a light-saber. I already had every color I needed, including a very excellent green for his skin that I found in the bottom of my bin. I had only part skeins of each color but that turned out to be more than enough. (I might make a second one for me :P)

The only changes I made were minimal. Instead of the simple black eyes they used, I used a pair of 12mm black safety eyes and affixed them before stuffing the head. Once stuffed, I first used a bit of the same green yarn to embroider a large bump with two smaller bumps to the side for a nose. Then, I used a darker green to embroidered his wrinkled brow, outline the nose and give him a grin. 

Aside from that I decided to leave off the light-saber and instead give him his cane. I did this for two reasons: The cane is his original prop from the films and I felt like it was from his time as a wise teacher, and this Yoda is a gift to a teacher... more meaningful I feel.

Since the cane was not part of the pattern, I will share what I did to make it.
In dark brown like belt. 
Magic Circle with 5 sc.
Sc around until reach the height you like (about 15 rounds)
Then do 2 sc in each, 10 sc.
One more row of sc around. 10 sc. 
Bind off and leave a long tail. At this point I inserted a folded pipe-cleaner into the center so that if you like it can be a crooked cane, but also to keep it from curling or being floppy. Once you have your core in, fold the top in half and sew it up to make the handle. I then put it up to his actual hand and took the tail over, secured it and went back over again to make a little strap so that it can actually stay on his hand or be removed. It can also be tucked under the sleeve to give the illusion he is holding it. :)

Really, really freaking cute. I kept laughing while making it and that is always an excellent sign.
Total time to completion: 12 hours. 

April 11, 2014

Blathers the Owl

I mentioned that I was going to start work on a Blathers crochet toy back in this post from June of 2013. I posted this picture on Instagram in August of 2013. Needless to say, this has been my most ambitious crochet project ever. Period. I tried to keep this as on model as possible from his look in AC:New Leaf.
Plans and more plans.
Colors: Dark brown for body, wings, tail and eyebrows. White for eyes, wing stripe, chest plate and toenails. Light brown for face plate, inside argyle, nostrils and inside mouth. Medium brown for argyle outline, eye outline, leg bands and eyebrow dots. Dusty pink for cheeks. Bright yellow for feet and beak. Green for bow tie.
The owl in question.
I started out with the chest. I knew I wanted to make the argyle pattern on his chest in granny squares as I was working up a lot of them at that time. So I made the smallest granny square and outlined it in the proper colors of his argyle. I then also made small triangles to complete the edge pattern. I then used the tails to tie the squares and triangles into the shape of the argyle on his chest. I then had to make the white belly for under the argyle pattern. I then sewed the argyle onto the white chest plate.

Next was the green bow tie. A simple enough thing after that chest... make a rectangle of sc and use a bit of green to cinch the center. Voila, bow tie.

With that detail finished I could then approximate and create the body to go under the chest plate. The body was done in a circular fashion from the base up. Increasing as I went along to make it tall enough to accommodate the white chest piece. It also had to be wide enough since the chest piece does not wrap around the sides at all.

Sewing chest plate to body with the aid of stitch markers to hold it in place.
Once that was complete I made feet in what I hoped was a good proportion to the body.
The feet are done in yellow and were a single leg piece with a foot "bulb" at the bottom, onto which I sewed the toes which have white toenails. The legs then got brown lines embroidered onto them and were stuffed.

After the body and feet were done, I moved on to figuring out the wings. I spent at least a month on them since I kept changing the shape. I wanted them to have a bit of a swing to them rather than just be straight down to the side. So they took about three start overs to get right. Once I had one done, I had to then make 3 more since I wanted them to be a bit thick since the body was already so large and a single layer would be too tiny. One of the trickiest parts was getting those three end feather bumps just right. Three rows were dedicated to that shape, one in brown for the base of the feathers, one in white to get the stripe, and one more in brown again to finish it off. So I made 4 wings and put two together, with single crochets around the edge, for each wing to get a nice heft. I did not stuff them as I did not think it needed it.
Wing v2, this was not used but it is close. Final design had an angle to the top right side like the bottom.
After the wings... I was burnt out. This was around September of 2013. So much time and frustration had gone into it, and it was already so much larger than I had thought it might be. I put all the colors and hooks into a bag and set it aside. You can see from my posting history that I made a lot of smaller things in the mean time. Blathers sat, headless, in the shed.

It was only recently, in February of 2014, that I ran out of projects to work on. I also was out in my shed more since I like to work out there when the weather is nice. I kept seeing that bag of parts. I had a small disk that I had started that was supposed to be the head. I picked it back up from there.

This time I was a little smarter though. All those other projects helped cement in my mind how increases and decreases should be done. I also had new tricks for invisible bind offs and color changes.

So the head I only had to restart once. I got all the way through it and stuffed it only to decide it was too small for the body. Blather's head in the reference image is just as tall as his whole body and wider too. However, I did not have to start from scratch, since as I went along writing the pattern, I left stitch markers in place at certain rows. So I only had to rip out half of the head, start widening more than I had before and keep going.

I stuffed the body and head and attached them together at the neck. I wrote the head from the top down, and the body from the bottom up so that both openings at the neck had the same number of stitches so that I could simply line them up and sew them together. Once the head was on and the body complete, I sewed the legs and wings into place.
This pic does not really do justice to how large he is.
At this point he was faceless, and I was faced with another daunting set of details to work on.

So I procrastinated and made his tail. Since the wings were in place and the feet as well I could make a chain and lay it on to the backside to see how wide the tail should be. Since you can't really tell how it looks I kind of made one up that I liked and was similar to the wings and in the same way, made two tails and single crocheted them together and sewed it on the back so it peeks between the legs a tiny bit. He cannot stand, of course, but I held it up in the same position as the reference image to make sure.
A tail.
Stalling over, it was face time.
I started with the eyes. They were a simple enough shape. White circle with a row of medium brown on the edges. Black pupils that started as circles and with an extra row to make them oval.  Sew the pupils into place on the eyes and set aside.

Next I did the cheeks. In dusty pink I did a the same circle shape from the eyes without the edger row, since they look a tiny bit smaller than the eyes in the reference image.

Next was the beak and mouth. The easy way would have been to have a closed beak and make a cone shape in yellow, stuff it and then embroider a line for the mouth. But no, that was too easy to do. Instead I made an inside mouth circle about the same size as the eyes with a bright yellow center and light brown edging like the inside looks. Then I made a bottom beak piece in bright yellow and sewed it along the bottom edge of the mouth. Next I made a top beak and sewed the top half of the inside mouth up underneath and inside the top beak. So the top beak overhangs the inside mouth. That made the mouth into a shape kind of like a hand puppet (like muppet mouths). I also added one row of sc to the edge of the beak to make it smoother once it was all sewed together. I embroidered the nostrils on the outside and stuffed all the ends inside the top beak.

All along this process I kept laying out the pieces onto the blank head to make sure they fit and were to a good size. I used quite a few large stitch markers to hold them on the face in the approximate positions to see how it looked all together.

Next was what I am calling the eyebrow ridge. In the image you would think I could just do two long rectangles for the eyebrows, but I needed to also make a triangle center piece since the light brown under the whole face would be easiest to make as one giant oval. So I would need a piece to cover up the light brown face plate between the eyebrows.

I started a triangle shape from a chain that I had laid between the eyes as I had them pinned on the face. I then widened it to continue slightly laying over the curved eyes, since in the image the top of the eyes outside line goes under the brows. Once it was wide enough and tall enough, I branched off one side to make one eyebrow, complete with last row to get the three tiny feathers and then went back to the base and crocheted the second brow to match. I finished the outside edges with a row of single crochet as well. Then I had to make the dots for on the brows. I used the same outline color from the chest and did 10 small circles. I used their tails to sew and tie them down to the brows.

Once I was happy with all the bits and had them in approximate place on the face, I could create the light brown face plate to go under it all. For this step I used a piece of paper and cut out a shape that I laid over all the bits on the face. This way I could have a template to work from that I knew would fit the area. With the paper template I simply chained and increased and decreased to match my paper shape, with the exception that at the top I added some center decreases to get it to fit the curved face better. Of course, all that work is underneath the beak and eyebrow piece, so you can't see it anyway, but it makes it all fit and sew down nicer.
Face details sewn down to face plate.
Once the face plate was done, I needed to sew down all the face bits onto the face plate in the right spots. I added a little stuffing into the beak cavities and centered that down first leaving the top beak unsewn and open. Then the eyes were next. Then the cheeks since they sit over the top of the bottom of the eyes and fall outside the edge of the face plate as well. Then I tacked down the eyebrow ridge. This is why I had to leave the top of the beak open since it goes under the beak but over the eyes.

Once all the pieces are down on the face plate I took that whole thing and aligned it onto the head right. Then I used corresponding yarns to sew it onto the head. The eyebrows only got half sewed down so that the top bits came up and off like in the image.

Time to completion: ???? 100+ hours maybe. If you tried to make a new one from the pattern** I have written, maybe 50 hours? No idea.
Difficulty: Painful. Frustrating. Meticulous.
Completed Height: (Feet to Head) 18 inches
Completed Width: 11 inches

**You might have noticed I have not supplied the actual pattern for this guy. If you would like to make one of your own, email me. I will share the pattern for a nominal fee, as I put so much time into him.

With me. So you can see how large he is...